Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts Tuesday for his involvement in George Floyd’s death, a verdict that could send the disgraced former Minneapolis police officer to prison for the rest of his life.
Dressed in a gray suit, Chauvin’s eyes darted left and right over his light blue surgical mask as the judge read the jury’s verdict, but he betrayed little else in the way of emotion.
Convicted of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter, Chauvin stood up quickly after the judge ordered his bail revoked and compliantly placed his hands to be handcuffed before he was led out of the courtroom. He faces up to 75 years in prison when he returns for sentencing in eight weeks.
Outside the courthouse, the crowd erupted into cheers when word of the verdict filtered out.
“All three counts! All three counts!” the crowd chanted.
Jennifer Ramirez, 24, who lives in Minneapolis, headed to the Hennepin County Government Center before the verdict was announced.
“I hope Chauvin gets as much time in prison as possible because he deserves it,” Ramirez said as she sat across the street from the government center, her mother and brother by her side. “Maybe it will set a precedent for other police in the area and maybe nationwide. Hopefully this leads to change.”
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison called the verdict “a first step towards justice” and said Floyd “sparked a worldwide movement.”
“George Floyd mattered,” Ellison said.
The panel of seven women and five men, which began deliberating Monday after three weeks of witness testimony, took a little over 10 hours to reach the unanimous verdict.
Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years. Third-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 25 years. Second-degree manslaughter is punishable by up to 10 years.
The third-degree murder charge had initially been dismissed, but it was reinstated after an appeals court ruling in an unrelated case established new grounds for it days before jury selection started.
Chauvin, who is white, knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as Floyd, who was Black, was handcuffed and lying on the ground.
Prosecutors argued that Chauvin’s actions caused Floyd to die from low oxygen, or asphyxia. The defense claimed that Floyd’s illegal drug use and a pre-existing heart condition were to blame and urged jurors not to rule out other theories, as well, including exposure to carbon monoxide.
During closing arguments, prosecutors sought to focus jurors’ attention on the 9 minutes, 29 seconds they say Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, while Chauvin’s defense attorney told them that “the 9 minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds” of the interaction.
Prosecutors called 38 witnesses, including the teenager who recorded the widely seen bystander video that brought global attention to Floyd’s death. She and other bystanders who testified said they are haunted by Floyd’s death and that they wish they had done more to try to save his life. The defense called seven witnesses, two of whom were experts.
Chauvin had agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder days after Floyd’s death, but William Barr, then the U.S. attorney general, rejected the deal because, officials said, he was worried that it was too early in the investigation and that it would be perceived as too lenient.
Floyd’s death touched off international protests against police brutality and racial injustice. The city of Minneapolis has spent months preparing for the trial and for the potential of unrest over the verdict.